In an effort to make work environments safer, unvaccinated workers may have to foot the bill for their own COVID-19 tests.
While the issue will be examined during a meeting of the Social Partnership scheduled for next week, Prime Minister Mia Mottley, suggested Friday that it might be the price unvaccinated workers may have to pay for refusing the free vaccine being made available to them.
Mottley told a press conference at Ilaro this afternoon that Cabinet had already made a decision that both Barbadians and tourists leaving the island will now have to pay for their own COVID-19 tests.
She said while workers would not be forced to take the vaccine, employers may have to take certain precautions to ensure the work environment was safe for all employees.
She said the fact that none of the 46 persons in primary and secondary care at Harrison’s Point were vaccinated showed those persons were at a much higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
“The bigger issue that we have to ask is that not everybody is familiar with the law and the reality is that it is not only that an employer has an obligation to have a safe place of work, and we will discuss that next week with the Social Partnership, but there are also implications because regrettably, persons who are responsible for hurting somebody else by deliberately or recklessly transmitting the virus to them knowing full well that they are working in close quarters would be putting themselves at risk not only medically but also legally. And I really, really hope that a strong discussion in the Social Partnership next week will begin to allow us to see the changes that we need to see,” the Prime Minister said.
“Employers have a duty to ensure that there is a safe place of work. That safe place of work can come either as a result of a person being vaccinated or as a result of a person being negative and therefore, regular testing may well be an alternative to vaccination. The question is who will carry the cost of the regular testing largely because vaccinations are free and initial tests are free other than for those who are travelling overseas. The Cabinet has already agreed that people who are travelling overseas whether local or foreign should start paying for their tests now and similarly we may well have to consider it with respect to people who are requiring regular tests because they don’t want a free vaccination. But these are subjects that have to be discussed as we do in Barbados at the Social Partnership.”
Mottley said if a consensus could not be reached at the level of the Social Partnership Government would make a decision.
The Prime Minister said while many people might not be aware, there were vaccine clauses in the collective agreement between the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association and the Barbados Workers’ Union.